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April 9, 2010    

Aquarius Platinum leads miners higher

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by Elaine Frei
Aquarius Platinum leads miners higher

European equities markets saw gains Friday on rumors that a bailout for the Greek economy will be announced soon by the European Union, even though Fitch Ratings said the outlook for that nation’s economy is negative and cut Greece’s debt rating to one level above junk, adding that more downgrades could be forthcoming.

Meanwhile, both Greek authorities and European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet insisted that Greece was not in need of a bailout.

The FTSE 100 was up 1.02 percent to 5,770.98 in London, while the FTSE 250 added 0.81 percent to 10,463.28.

Miners were higher in London as metals prices rose, led by Aquarius Platinum (LSE: AQP), which was up 4.03 percent on the 250, while gold and silver miner Fresnillo (LSE: FRES) topped gainers on the 100 as it added 3.51 percent.

Xstrata (LSE: XTA), with interests in coal as well as in copper and other metals, added 2.85 percent as it entered the bidding for Australian coal miner Macarthur Coal Ltd (ASX: MCC), and after it said it expects copper demand in China to rise by up to 10 percent this year and that global demand for the metal used in construction and manufacturing to be up by 2% to 3% in 2010.

The energy sector was mostly higher as well, led by Premier Oil (LSE: PMO) after Royal Bank of Scotland raised its recommendation on the oil and gas exploration group from “hold” to “buy”, while Salamander Energy (LSE: SMDR) was the worst performer of six decliners in the sector as it dropped 2.55 percent.

The best performer of the day in London was Croda International (LSE: CRDA), which added 4.88 percent on the 250 to lead the chemicals sector higher.

Asset managers Schroders (LSE: SDRt) non-voting shares showed the biggest decline on the 100 with a drop of 1.28 percent, while semiconductors manufacturer CSR (LSE: CSR) was the worst performer on the 250 and in London as it fell 3.81 percent.

Recruiter Michael Page International (LSE: MPI) added 3.66 percent on higher profits in the first quarter of the year.

The FTSE Eurofirst 300 was up 1.26 percent to 1,101.67 while the Dax added 1.26 percent to 6,249.7, the CAC-40 was 1.81 percent higher to 4,050.54 and the IBEX gained 2.87 percent to 11,394.2.

Most markets in the Asia-Pacific region were higher, but South Korea’s Kospi dropped 0.54 percent to 1,724.47.

The Nikkei 225 was up 0.32 percent to 11,204.34 in Tokyo, while the Topix index added 0.35 percent to 989.42 and the Mothers market gained 1.13 percent to 474.83.

Gains in Tokyo were helped as some retailers issued optimistic earnings forecasts for the fiscal year just begun, as Fast Retailing (TYO: 9983) added 3.1 percent and Seven & I Holdings (TYO: 3382) gained 6.1 percent on the session.

Canon (TYO; 7751), on the other hand, fell 2.8 percent after Goldman Sachs downgraded the camera and copier manufacturer from “buy” to “neutral”.

Australian markets were higher as the S&P/ASX200 added 0.21 percent to 4,948.1 and the Sydney Ordinaries gained 0.25 percent to 4,972.9, while the Straits Times Index was 0.3 percent higher to 2,971.97 in Singapore and Taiwan’s Taiex was up 0.43 percent to 8,092.03.

The Shanghai Composite added 0.85 percent to 3,145.35, the Sensex was up 1.23 percent to 17,933.14 in India, and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 1.56 percent to 22.208.5.

Wall Street was higher in midday trade, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 0.45 percent to 10,975.74 while at the same time the S&P 500 had added 0.44 percent to 1,191.61 and the Nasdaq Composite was 0.41 percent higher to 2,446.85.

Metals prices were up at midday in New York, but crude oil prices were lower.

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